Alcohol Found to Trigger Asthma and Allergic Reactions

November 12, 2012

Alcohol Found to Trigger Asthma and Allergic Reactions

Dr. Sami Bahna, past president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) and chief of Allergy and Immunology at Louisiana State University Medical School in Shreveport, La. has warned that alcohol can be a trigger for an allergic reaction, it can also worsen any allergies already identified. Bahni released the news in an American College of Allergy and Immunology (ACAAI) news release.

Being allergic to alcohol is not common, however being allergic to the chemicals and substances present within many alcoholic drinks is not rare. Common symptoms can be nasal congestion, upset stomach, red and itchy eyes and wheezing or difficulty breathing. The severity of these reactions vary from very mild such as a rash right through to a life threatening asthma attack or even anaphylaxis.

Beer and wine routinely contain the following ingredients known to be potential triggers for an allergy, including barley, ethanol, grapes, malt, hops, wheat and yeast. Egg whites, which are added during the processing and filtering procedure, can also be a potential allergen along with sulfites, which can be used as a preservative although it is present naturally in wine. Banha also adds that tyramines are chemicals present in wine and they are known to cause headaches.

While pointing out that alcohol can also exacerbate allergies which already exist Bahna says, “Individuals can be allergic to the alcohol itself or an added ingredient, but even when people are not allergic, they may not realize that alcohol can worsen existing allergy symptoms, particularly food allergies. In these cases, the study pointed out, avoiding alcoholic beverages is the best way to avoid potential reactions”.

A discussion at the ACAAI annual meeting in Boston regarding case studies of allergic reactions caused by alcohol is scheduled where Doctor Bahna will spell out the negative effects of tobacco smoke. Asthma and allergic reactions are both more likely and can be more severe if the person is exposed to tobacco smoke which makes sufferers more sensitive to common triggers in the air such as pollen and spores.

He points out that, “People with allergies and asthma should be especially careful to avoid any exposure to tobacco smoke”. He also recommends a visit to an allergist for anyone who has ever had a reaction to food, alcohol or tobacco. He ends on a positive point by saying, “In most cases, simply understanding what triggers the allergic reaction will help the person find an alternative drink to enjoy”.

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